Only So Much Coke

Drummer Sharie Hall, 31, says she and her three bandmates in Unloaded share 29 years of "clean time." They all met in recovery and have been a band for two years. She admits they have used "...heroin, meth, cocaine, pot, crack, booze, VCR head cleaner, jet fuel, nitrous oxide...."

She says she and her punk/goth/metal bandmates "...are emotional roller coasters. Sometimes we want to kill each other in practice."

Recently, lead singer Amy Norfleet relapsed.

"She hit her first real rock bottom 30 days ago," says Hall. "She was driving in Riverside, and she was pulled over. She spent the night in jail. She had six years [of sobriety] before that.

"We told her we were dismantling the band unless she does 90-90 -- that's 90 meetings in 90 days.... We told her if we had to cancel shows, we'd cancel shows. And we did. We canceled shows at the Jumping Turtle and at Kadan."

Norfleet has been going to her meetings, and the band has resumed practicing. When they play, Hall says Unloaded can bring a crowd.

"Our friends come in and pack the place. But on the nights we play, the places we play don't make that much money. Half the audience is in recovery."

"You can only drink so much Coke," says bassist Alan Stewart.

The rehab experience does not dominate Unloaded's lyrics.

"Real recovering people don't preach," says Stewart. "Rehab sucks. [Celebrities] go to a posh rehab. The rehab we went to is hard."

They say they wouldn't mind having a drinker in their band.

"We'd be open to having a guitarist who is a normal drinker," says Hall. "But the four of us are so close. We know we're addicts."

Both Hall and Stewart say they have no problem playing in bars.

"I could see how people could relapse by playing at bars," says Stewart. "But if I wasn't 100 percent in recovery I wouldn't do it."

Unloaded appears Saturday, December 22, at Brick by Brick.

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